Most Christians that I talk to do not realize the immense freedom that they have in Christ to just assemble and be the local church right where they are. Not only do they not have to search for a church, they are not even supposed to!
We do not see a single example in the Bible of any Christian searching to find a church or a pastor. They simply walked in their roles and spiritual gifts right where they were and this is exactly what we are supposed to do today. This is a huge key to putting an end to “church search frustration” forever. What most Christians have come to think of as the local church is based on pure theory and gross assumption, not on what the Bible actually teaches. We must stand on the written Word and not veer off no matter how enticing the “benefits” of an institutional church system may seem. Incidentally, the “benefits” of such church systems almost always have something to do with competition, greed, self-promotion, recognition, factions, cliques, etc., all things the Bible forbids.
Not only is every Christian part of the universal priesthood of all believers (the worldwide Church of Jesus Christ), every Christian is also already the local church right where they are, or more specifically part of the local church right where they are. We simply need to gather. That’s it. No pomp no circumstance. We are supposed to gather casually just like any group of friends would, but instead being serious about Christ, serious about obeying the Bible and serious about real church life. We are to continue in the written Word (read, ask questions of each other and discuss things openly together), worship, pray, have communion and fellowship. It’s that simple and IT’S A PURE JOY compared to the institutional system of men. With rare exceptions, I am convinced that Christians will NOT find this ANYWHERE except by starting right where they are.
Different Christians bring different strengths to the table according to the various gifts that God has given them. We do not avail ourselves of these incredible resources in the current system of men. In a false local church, it’s all about one guy or a small group of men and their alleged spiritual gifts. Christians are dying on the vine. They are spiritual stunted and atrophied for reason of lack of use. Yes, they are USED and exploited for their talents and skills, but their spiritual gifts are NOT being put to any real use.
Of course I am not saying that real church life is a bed of roses. We are still human and we will still have some interpersonal problems to deal with as far as getting along with each other but we will have the right environment and the right tools to deal with such things in love, according to the wonderful exhortation in Matthew 18 on how to properly deal with personal offences. The real meaning of such passages of Scripture is distorted or kept entirely hidden in the systems of men.
The Search is Over
I hear from people all the time who are completely fed up with the religious practices of manmade churches but yet they are usually not willing to do anything significant about solving the problem. Instead, most are busy “up on the branches” trying to solve treetop issues like behaviors and offences and so they almost never get to the root of the problem, which involves the system itself. Trimming the leaves never works. The problems keep growing back. What they need to do is pull out the roots to stop this thing.
Many say, “well our church is non-denominational so it’s not institutional.” Not so. Only a non-authoritarian church is non-institutional and due to the greed and selfishness of most “leaders” who have taken God’s people captive, non-authoritarian churches are very rare. And, most churches that Christians call non-denominational are actually mini one-location authoritarian denominations.
Here’s the thing: Instead of looking to find and join another church, please consider this: Until we get a full revelation that we are the local church right here and right now, without realizing it, we will continue to perpetually search for a counterfeit version of that which we already have. Today, to search for a local church usually involves searching for some kind of existing manmade system, maybe arguably a less abusive system compared to another, but it is usually a search for an existing unbiblical system nonetheless. That is the bottom line.
It’s Time to Get Off the Merry-Go-Round
I have seen countless Christians jump from one similar abusive church to another. It just doesn’t work. It never will. They start out all pumped up and hopeful that this new church will somehow be different from the last. And over time, they wake up and find that they are again right in the middle of abuse, offended (as they should be) by the inevitable ungodliness that they are being put though.
It is impossible to find externally that which God has already given you internally. It can never work and so it never does. We need to understand what the Bible teaches regarding who we already are and what we already have. Without this knowledge we are prey for the predator. Ignorance of the Scriptures is a dangerous thing. In Hosea 4:6a, God says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge”.
I am not saying that one cannot find some lesser “satisfaction” in an institutional church, but such assemblies are only a weak and dangerous substitute for the real thing. What an incredible trick of the devil, to get countless Christians running around looking for a counterfeit version of that which they already have!
You might ask what happens if you become aware of a group of genuine Christians who are meeting in a healthy non-authoritarian environment in your neighborhood, would it be wrong for you to assemble with them? Of course not. But there is a big difference between becoming aware of the existence of such a group of Christians compared to going on a search for them. Let us each assemble right where we are and let God join us with other groups of Christians if and when He sees fit.
God can open the doors to make us aware of each other and Christ’s churches can join or combine at any time. His churches can also lovingly split into smaller churches as necessary. You may one day discover a group of Christians meeting just like you meet and you may decide to all meet together instead. Great, as the Lord leads!
But, if you are one who insists on maintaining the popular status quo, then the next time you find yourself sitting in a row of seats staring forward at a pulpit, consider this: The Bible never teaches this as church life. Lectures and other such formal teachings have their place in the proper context and time but 1Cor 14 gives us a clear picture of interactive open meetings in a healthy environment where things are done decently and in order yet where no man or group of men ever dominate. Most Christians refuse to ever consider this and hence they remain in bondage to men and never discover the incredible church life that God has given us.